Information for Gemini parents

Childhood into early adolescence is an important transition during which children’s eating habits can change; as they gain independence they make more decisions of their own about what and how much to eat.

 

We launched this exciting next phase of Gemini in November 2019. This phase will continue over the next 5 years and the aim of this phase of Gemini is to understand why some children develop healthy eating habits, a good relationship with food, positive body image and high self-esteem, but others struggle and develop difficulties, during the transition from childhood to adolescence. 

 

Because the Gemini children are twins, this study offers a unique opportunity for researchers to understand better how genes (nature) and environmental factors (nurture) shape eating patterns over development. As part of our research, we hope to learn more about why eating disorders and unhealthy eating patterns sometimes develop. This may make it possible to identify children who are at risk at an early age, and allow parents to put strategies in place to help prevent eating disorders from developing.

If you missed any previous Gemini questionnaires, you can still participate in this next phase and we will contact you to ask you if you wish to take part. Your information is always valuable to the study. We would like to encourage all Gemini families who started the study in 2007-8 to take part now

What will the next phase of Gemini involve?

Over the next 5 years we will be asking you to provide information about your twins’ development, eating and physical activity habits, and aspects of your home and family life.

 

In 2019-2020, when your twins were 11-12 years old, we asked your twins to tell us about their eating patterns, and their thoughts and feelings about food and physical appearance. Some of the questions asked specifically about eating disorder symptoms, behaviours and thoughts. Information was primarily collected via questionnaires (preferably to be completed online). We also asked you and your twins to complete a short online game to acquire new behaviour measures.

 

We also contacted some families by telephone to interview you about your home family life (some of you may remember taking part in this interview when your twins were 4 years old).

Rewards for taking part

The Gemini team would like to say a big thank you for taking part in our recent studies. The research would not be possible without your continued time and support. To say thank you for taking part, we have sent families a £20 Love2reward flexecode voucher, which can be used at a wide range of websites and high street shops. We also recently held a prize draw to win a pair of iPad Mini's. See our blog post to read about the lucky winners!

What are the possible benefits or disadvantages of taking part?

Several Gemini families have contacted us to say how much they have enjoyed being part of a study that is making important strides in improving the health and development of children. Many families have also told us the questionnaires have given them the opportunity to reflect on their family life, which they have greatly valued. We have also had positive feedback from families about the yearly updates on the study that we provide through the annual newsletter.

 

To understand why some children develop healthy eating habits, and others have a more difficult relationship with food, we would like to ask your twins about their thoughts and feelings about food, eating, and their physical appearance. Some parents worry that these questions may upset their child. However, previous research of this nature has shown no harm to children. Nevertheless, if your child is upset by any questions or feels uncomfortable, they can stop at any time. If your child’s responses to any of the questions cause you to feel concerned about an eating disorder, the UK charity Beat Eating Disorders provides information and help online: www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk.  If you are very worried, we recommend that you talk to your GP.

Do I have to take part?

It is up to you and your twins to decide whether or not to take part. You can withdraw at any time without giving a reason and without it affecting any benefits that you are entitled to. 

What will happen to the results of the research project?

As we have done every year since the study began, we will send you an annual newsletter informing you about the progress and results of the study. We will also include summaries of the findings on the Gemini website (www.geministudy.co.uk or www.geministudy.com), via the Gemini Twitter account (@GeminiResearch), and via the new Gemini Facebook page (Gemini - Health and Development in Twins). We will also present results at conferences and publish them in scientific journals.

When will I be contacted again?

We would like to contact you again over the next five years. You do not have to let us know now whether or not you would like to continue to participate. If you took part in the phone interview when your twins were 4 years old we will telephone you over the next ten months to repeat the interview.

Will our participation in this project be kept confidential?

Yes. All the information that we collect about you and your twins during the course of the research will be kept strictly confidential. The information you provide will be stored in a pseudonymised format using your participant ID numbers (separate from your name and contact details), on a secure server at UCL. It will not be possible to identify any individual (parent or child) from the data, or in any ensuing reports or publications.

 

Confidentiality will be respected subject to legal constraints and professional guidelines. For more information please read our Data Protection Privacy Policy.

Who is organising and funding the research? 

The research is organised by the Gemini research team at UCL, led by Dr Clare Llewellyn.

 

The UK charity ‘MQ: Transforming Mental Health’ is funding the research. To satisfy research council/charity-funded research, we are obligated to make the pseudonymised data available for future research should other researchers request it.

What if something goes wrong? 

If you have concerns about this research, please contact Dr Clare Llewellyn [c.llewellyn@ucl.ac.uk]. Should you wish to take your matter further you can contact the Chair of the UCL Research Ethics Committee (ethics@ucl.ac.uk). 

Contact information

Thank you for reading this information about the study and for considering taking part in the next phase of Gemini research. If you have any queries about the study, please send an email to gemini@ucl.ac.uk. We will reply to your email as soon as possible Monday to Friday. If you do not have access to the Internet you can give us a call on 02076791940. Please note that telephone enquiries may take longer to reply as staff members are not always at the desk due to research activities. If the call is not answered straight away, please leave a message and we will respond as soon as possible.

All proposals for research using people are reviewed by an ethics committee before they can proceed. This study has been approved by the UCL Research Ethics Committee (Project ID Number: 1624/004)

 

Please click here to download a copy of this information about the study and keep it for future reference. 

Thank you for reading this information

The Gemini Team